Dr. Suzanne B. Phillips

Licensed Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Diplomate in Group Psychology, Certified Group Therapist, Author, Radio Host and Media Consultant Covering a Wide Range of Psychological Topics

Post: Single By Choice and Not Lonely

The assumption that singles are all alone, deprived or depressed on Valentine’s Day is not only not true—it is insulting.

There is no doubt that many people will enjoy the celebration of Valentine’s Day, be it with a new romantic partner, a finance, or with a partner of many years. Many will even benefit from this day as an opportunity to pause, express love and take stock of the reasons for being grateful for the people in their lives.heart with hands

Realities of Singles

It is worth remembering that the conventional connotation of a day like Valentine’s Day often obscures the reality that nearly 50% of American adults are single, and many choose that status.

According to Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo: The extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, 32.7 million, one out of every seven adults, lives alone. The majority is middle-age adults between the ages of thirty-five and sixty-four, 11 million of the total are elderly, and 5 million include young adults between eighteen and thirty-four.

While we are often reminded of our need to address the dangers of loneliness and isolation particularly of the elderly, research suggests that the reasons for the increase in one-person households reflect the finding that Americans prefer “privacy” in living arrangements, and that increasing economic resources are often used to “purchase” this privacy in the form of living alone.

It may well be that the key to how lonely a person feels is the choice they have in living alone and being single.

  • From both personal and professional perspectives, I have seen as much happiness, satisfaction and social connection in those choosing to be single as I have in those married or in relationships. I have also seen as much loneliness and isolation in some marrieds as I have in those who are single.
  • Recognizing happiness as a function of our state of mind, our expectations, our sense of purpose, our ability to regulate stress, our sense of gratitude, our passions, our generosity of spirit, our capacity to be alone and our capacity to connect— the choice to be single or to be married, albeit important, is one dimension in our life story.

The Social Strengths of Singles

  • It may come as a surprise and is important to note that in a survey of 25,000 adults in the U.S. who were asked about their friends, the results were consistently in one direction – single people have more friends than married people.
  •  In this study, 25,000 people responded to an NBC News.com survey which included men, women, single, married, parents, non-parents.
  • The researchers asked participants to respond to three questions – “ Thinking of your male and female friends, how many do you have that… You could talk about your sex life? You expect to do something with you to celebrate your birthday? You could call or text if you were in trouble late at night? Participants were asked these same questions for male and female friends and their scores for both groups became their total score.
  • Although the focus is on quantity, this survey suggests that whether men, women, with or without children, single people report more friends they can speak with and rely upon than married folks.

 Generosity of Singles

An often-overlooked characteristic of singles that I have observed in the singles in my family and with friends is their willingness to step up to help and support those around them. One might argue that people in the midst of families and marriages don’t have the time or the need, but I would suggest that the generosity of spirit reflects an enduring trait. It may correlate with a sensitivity to the needs of self and others, including the need for privacy.

This generosity is confirmed in evidence-based studies sited by Dr. Bella DePaulo who reports that singles are more likely than adults of other marital statuses to provide help to friends, neighbors, and coworkers, including transportation, errands, and shopping; housework, yard work, repairs, or other work around the house; and advice, encouragement, or moral or emotional support.

  • Given we are human there is a tendency to see others from our own perspective and we often miss their real essence.
  • Whether single or married we all share a culture of non-ending messages of what the world is doing and what we should be doing or feeling. Being entitled to make our own choices is key to happiness.
  • It is hoped that most people will celebrate or ignore Valentine’s Day in their own terms and in their own way.

Wouldn’t it be great if we felt free to tell the people in our lives that we loved them – today and any day we could!